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Mockingbird 2.0?
October 10, 2007 1:49 PM   Subscribe

Rehearsing the next terror attack. before 911, the government paid little attention to the role of media and public communications in its national exercises. In 2003, Ogilvy PR was asked by the Department of Homeland Security to develop and manage a full-scale, sophisticated media element in support of TOPOFF 3, its most comprehensive terrorism response exercise ever. The result was a simulated yet eerily realistic news broadcast via the Virtual News Network. The TOPOFF 4 exercise is scheduled to take place October 15-19, 2007.
posted by augustweed (22 comments total)

 
Brilliant and creepy. I can't figure out which world I want to live in: one where terrorism is an incalculable threat, or one where it is dealt with as a a scenario to be maximally exploited by a profit-driven, war-mongering White House that has, for all intents and purposes, dismissed any attempt to align its interests with those of the people it serves.
posted by phaedon at 2:22 PM on October 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


I wager that the TOPOFF 4 exercise is going to be like War of the Worlds. A bunch of people are not going to know that it is fake, and have a freak out.
posted by Mr_Zero at 2:29 PM on October 10, 2007


Little did they know was that the experimental fake gas they used would produce a race of atomic powered brain eating
zombie mutant vampires.
posted by doctorschlock at 2:40 PM on October 10, 2007


Talk about taking the most nefarious view possible. Isn't it far more plausible that DHS understands that the public has a right to (and will demand to) be provided with quality information in the most timely, accurate way possible in the event of another major event? I see nothing in any of the materials cited suggesting that the intent was to ensure a situation that could be "maximally exploited by a profit-driven, war-mongering White House." I see lots of discussion about ensuring that helpful, accurate information is coordinated and disseminated.

It is a fact that in the event of another terrorist attack, the media pressure to obtain information would be enormous. Why shouldn't a PR firm be consulted to anticipate that pressure and help figure out the best way to convey information? In fact, if DHS didn't prepare, wouldn't it be (rightfully) criticized after an attack if communications and media relations were a disorganized clusterfuck?

Prepare. Don't prepare. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.
posted by pardonyou? at 2:56 PM on October 10, 2007


The mere fact that you call counter-terrorism "TOPOFF" tells me that you're not ready.
posted by Curry at 3:00 PM on October 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


It is a fact that in the event of another terrorist attack, the media pressure to obtain information would be enormous. Why shouldn't a PR firm be consulted to anticipate that pressure and help figure out the best way to convey information?

Because PR firms are not hired to tell the truth, but to sell something and/or mitigate bad news (See Burston-Marsteller and Blackwater, for instance, or all the private firms hired to lie to Iraqis, etc). Our government is supposed to tell us things, not private firms they hire.

Wasn't the Government also doing exercises on 9/11?
posted by amberglow at 3:00 PM on October 10, 2007


Wasn't the Government also doing exercises on 9/11?

.
posted by Brian James at 3:01 PM on October 10, 2007


Also, and very very important--not everything is something to be sold to us, the American People. Information from the government is supposed to be told to us by the government---not sold us like an ad campaign for soap--or war.
posted by amberglow at 3:02 PM on October 10, 2007


Wasn't the Government also doing exercises on 9/11?

Northern Vigilance
posted by Curry at 3:04 PM on October 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


I agree with pardonyou?'s perception of this. Public Relations isn't the same as Advertising. Nothing is being sold. This is really just Info Management. With a spokesperson like Bush, they desperately need it.

As a USian kid growing up in Europe during the 80's I experienced some terrorists acts first hand. Although I was scared I never freaked out because military and their dependents were trained (at least in my case) about terrorism, it's function, causes, how to avoid it, how to react etc.

Preparedness is a great thing. Of all of the actions taken since 9/11 this is probably the closest thing to being worth a squirt of piss.

Nice post augustweed. (Even though we might be seeing this differently!)
posted by snsranch at 4:10 PM on October 10, 2007


Far more important, when is TOPOFF 5 going to be held?
posted by eriko at 4:21 PM on October 10, 2007


So your saying that I should schedule my bid to take over the world between October 15th and 19th, 2007.

Because everyone that might try to stop me is going to be busy, apparently.

*checks calender*

OK, I can make that work.
posted by quin at 5:24 PM on October 10, 2007


Hey, move over quin, dammit, that's my gig!
posted by snsranch at 5:33 PM on October 10, 2007


This is really just Info Management. With a spokesperson like Bush, they desperately need it.

That's why we have thousands and thousands of WH employees who all have comunications functions as part of their job descriptions. It's also why we have a massive WH Press Office, and the Administration meets with bloggers, media and others every single week.

Paying for this is just crony capitalism and puts more of our money into private and wholly unaccountable hands without oversight---from all the private companies in Iraq like Blackwater, to faith-based private prisons, to religious orgs, to a Bush brother getting Education funds-- to everything. All of this is wrong--we pay for a Government and we already pay for "Info Management".
posted by amberglow at 7:43 PM on October 10, 2007


amberglow, it's really weird that every time you disagree with my comments that I totally agree with your supporting statements.

What you mention, sadly, is very true. But, also sadly, I keep hoping that someone will do something right for a change, and conveying info, even if somewhat processed, to the populace is a really good idea.

Frankly, when 9/11 happened, it only took about 2 days for me to realize that this was going to become a jingoistic mess.

When terrorism is an apparent threat the populace needs to be apprised of the situation and trained/given info as to how to avoid those situations and how to react if and when it does happen.
posted by snsranch at 8:38 PM on October 10, 2007


Wasn't the Government also doing exercises on 9/11?

What a coincidence.
posted by Mr_Zero at 9:44 PM on October 10, 2007


snsranch : >

When terrorism is an apparent threat the populace needs to be apprised of the situation and trained/given info as to how to avoid those situations and how to react if and when it does happen.


isn't that why the Govt created the DHS? (of course, they use that almost exclusively to funnel money to private companies and to scare and lie to us themselves when not hiring others to do it for them--just like with every Agency and Dept)
posted by amberglow at 7:30 AM on October 11, 2007


snsranch : >

When terrorism is an apparent threat the populace needs to be apprised of the situation and trained/given info as to how to avoid those situations and how to react if and when it does happen.


isn't that why the Govt created the DHS? (of course, they use that almost exclusively to funnel money to private companies and to scare and lie to us themselves when not hiring others to do it for them--just like with every Agency and Dept under Bush)
posted by amberglow at 7:41 AM on October 11, 2007


Isn't it far more plausible that DHS understands that the public has a right to (and will demand to) be provided with quality information in the most timely, accurate way possible in the event of another major event?

There's understanding and then there's caring.
posted by dirigibleman at 6:46 PM on October 11, 2007


I predict that the simulated failure to protect citizens will be highly successful, but the simulated coverup and scapegoating will have weaknesses that need to be addressed.
posted by Anything at 12:57 AM on October 12, 2007


Tick, tick, tick.
posted by Mr_Zero at 7:16 PM on October 15, 2007


related: All the president's PR men -- New questions are being raised about political operatives who have promoted President Bush’s Iraq war agenda and their role in spreading “good news” about Iraq, illustrating a public relations revolving door among the Republican Party, the White House and the private sector. ...
posted by amberglow at 4:39 PM on October 17, 2007


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